LIAT pilots to elect new chairman
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Nearly two months after Captain Michael Blackburn resigned as Chairman of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA), the association says it will meet on February 1 to elect a replacement.
In a memo, circulated to all LIAT pilots, LIALPA secretary, Captain Patterson Thompson, has reassured his colleagues that the union would leave “no stone unturned in attempting to right the wrong that has occurred.
“No doubt the dismissal of Captain Blackburn is still fresh in our minds and many of us are angry and or dissatisfied with the present situation as is,” Thompson said in the three-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
Blackburn resigned as chairman, soon after he was dismissed by LIAT on December 5, last year. The company said the action was taken after long and careful consideration and reflected the advice received from various legal sources that Captain Blackburn’s behaviour, and in particular his public radio statements had effectively destroyed the requirement for professional respect expected between an employer and its employees.
“In this case, summary dismissal as contemplated under the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code was recommended as the appropriate course of action. In particular it is felt that Captain Blackburn’s statements with regard to the safety standards of the airline and the capability of its management were a deliberate attempt to bring the company into public disrepute,” LIAT said in a statement after the dismissal and a crippling strike by pilots.
In the memo, Thompson said LIALPA suffered “a blow” but assured the membership that the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association is by no means dead.
“…out of 150 pilots we must be able to find a leader who we can rally around and have enough confidence in promoting our various causes,” he said.
“This contract has been built, fought for and protected by many pilots who have served this union steadfastly like Captain Desmond Ross who helped form the Association, Captains Ralston Potter, Osmond Lake, Ricardo Sealy, Joe Bento and even our very own present DFO (Director of Flight Operations) had a stint of leadership of the Association. I would not want to be part of the generation who allowed this contract to suffer and the Association to capitulate.”
In what appeared to be a sign of continued confrontation, Thompson warned pilots that they should not let LIAT encourage or force them to break the contract.
He said they should not work on off days; should not defer local nights; and they should use the two hours awarded by the Arbitrators to report for check-in after being called out on reserve.
“You cannot be called out to perform a duty after your reserve has finished…The time required for a change of duty is 10 hours and an acceptable reason must be given as to why it is being done,” he continued.